'Gannet cam' video: Researchers capture stunning footage of UK's largest seabird

Cameras show bird passing ship, dramatic sea dive, skimming over waves and landing in colony

A A A

Miniature cameras attached to the bodies of the UK's largest seabird have captured stunning footage of them flying high above the Welsh coast.

See video player below

Researchers working at Pembrokeshire's RSPB Grassholm nature reserve attached the cameras to a number of nesting gannets, with the results showing a bird flying high above the coastline while ships pass below. The footage also shows the bird landing in the bustling colony, skimming low over the water and spectacularly plunging into the sea at speed during a feeding dive.

The film was taken by a team led by Steve Votier, from the University of Exeter, and Mark Bolton from the RSPB.

Dr Votier has been carrying out research on the gannets on the tiny island of Grassholm off the Pembrokeshire coast for the last eight years.

The island, just nine hectares in size, is home to the fourth largest northern gannet colony in the world - with just under 40,000 pairs breeding there.

Dr Votier said the footage was obtained using a state-of-the-art miniature camera developed by the RSPB conservation science team.

"Seabirds spend most of their time at sea away from their nesting sites, making them difficult to study," he said.

"This camera really helps shed light on their behaviour away from the colony. For example, it allows us to more accurately investigate their reliance on discards from trawlers and how they interact with other birds while far from land."

Dr Bolton, principal conservation scientist at the RSPB, helped develop the devices.

He said: "The lightweight camera works alongside a GPS unit that allows us to accurately track birds' flight patterns and measure how long they are flying, feeding or resting.

"This information can answer both scientific and conservation questions and could contribute to the designation of marine conservation zones in Wales."

This technique has already shed new light on ways that gannets make use of waste from fishing boats.

'Gannet-cam' shows the bird skimming the waves and heading towards a trawler 'Gannet-cam' shows the bird skimming the waves and heading towards a trawler  

It was found that male gannets tended to feed more at trawlers than females and this difference may have conservation implications when a ban on discarding is implemented under reforms to the EU common fisheries policy.

Dr Votier believes that in the long term the work will be hugely beneficial.

"Gannets are long-lived seabirds and there is still much to learn about their life away from the breeding colony," he said.

"The application of technology to study the private lives of gannets has been influential to our research in the short term, but the goal is to continue this work in the long term to help provide a sustainable future for gannets and other marine life."

Ramsey Island and Grassholm site manager Greg Morgan said: "Dr Votier's research has contributed greatly to our knowledge of our Grassholm gannets over the years and this is hopefully the first step in the next exciting chapter."

Additional reporting PA

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore